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Potentially cancer-causing herbicide used on Dublin's streets

The World Health Organisation’s International Agency on the Research of Cancer has branded glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

Updated 15.26

A CHEMICAL CURRENTLY being used as a herbicide in Dublin could potentially be cancer causing.

The chemical, known as glyphosate but sold under the brand name Roundup, has been classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans by the International Agency on the Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

On their classifications, the IARC has stated they are technically measuring “hazards”, which is whether an agent is capable of causing cancer, but does not measure the likelihood that cancer will occur.

Roundup, which is manufactured by multinational agriculture company Monsanto, is widely used for weed killing in residential areas around the city.

Following its publication of the IARC research earlier this year, Monsanto issued a response in which it stated that it disagreed with the IARC’s classification of the glyphosate as carcinogenic.

In it, their vice president of global regulatory affairs, Dr Phillip Miller, said:

As recently as January, the German government completed a rigorous, four-year evaluation of glyphosate for the European Union. They reviewed all the data IARC considered, plus significantly more, and concluded “glyphosate was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk in humans.

On potential hazards associated with glyphosate, the company has stated, “Glyphosate-based herbicides are one of the most thoroughly tested in the world. Their history of safe use is supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, crop residue and environmental databases ever compiled on a pesticide product.”

The use of the herbicide was raised in Dublin City Council by Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe who has tabled a motion which will go forward later today for alternatives to the use of the chemical to be investigated.

In a statement, councillor Cuffe has said, “I am concerned that this weed killer is being used on residential streets.”

In recent days many streets around Stoneybatter and elsewhere in Dublin’s inner city have been sprayed with this weed-killer by contractors. We need to investigate alternatives to this weed-killer such as better street-cleaning to prevent weed growth, or weed removal by hand, rock salt or hot water.

In a statement yesterday evening, Dublin City Council said that they were in the process of carrying out an assessment on the different herbicides used around the city.

The findings of this will be reported to the council with a view to minimising their use. They went on to state that:

Ultimately the use of herbicides is governed by national regulation.
First published 06.15am. 
*Correction – this article had earlier referred to glyphosate as a pesticide rather than a herbicide. 

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